Taliban are not interested in peace rather they want a piece of land in Pakistan where they can establish an Islamic state and freely enforce their peculiar brand of Sharia laws and customs. If they were really serious in pursuing the path of peaceful negotiations, they would not have carried out a deadly suicide bombing, killing nine people in Khyber Pakhtunkhawa (KP). Political commentators view this attack as a response by the Taliban to the government negotiators failing to show up for the preliminary meeting with their team.
A prominent member of the government peace committee, Irfan Siddiqui, who is also Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s adviser on national security, told the media that the talks were delayed because the Taliban had only named seven out of the nine negotiators that will represent them. The Taliban, on their part put the condition forward through their spokesman that they would only initiate the peace talks process, when the CIA operated drone strikes stopped. Initially, the Taliban had agreed to an unconditional initiation of the peace talks with the government.
Another snag that has hit the fledgling peace process is that both Imran Khan, the chairman of Pakistan Tehrik-e-Insaf (PTI) and Maulana Fazal-ur-Rehman, an influential cleric and the head of Jamiat-e-Ulema-e-Islam (JUI-F), have refused to be a part of these talks. The Taliban on their part by carrying out the suicide bombing have reinforced the view held by the majority of national and international defense analysts that the Taliban want a piece of Pakistan’s territory and not peace talks.
What is really surprising is the fact that Khan who for over a decade has been acting as a Taliban spokesman stressing to open channels of communications between the government and the Taliban, at the eleventh hour has refused to be a mediator between the government and the Taliban. Perhaps, Khan is privy to some important information regarding the matter which the rest of the political leadership, in Pakistan, is unaware of. His refusal has been an important factor in delay of these peace talks.
Pakistan army which is the major stake holder and an integral part of any peace deal is still silent regarding this issue. The COAS, Raheel Sharif, has flown to Saudi Arabia to hold strategic talks with the Saudi king. It is expected that their one on one meeting will be instrumental in chalking out a strategy which will be detrimental to the whole Taliban peace process back home. The Pakistan army quarters hold that the Taliban want to cut Pakistan to size, as they did back in 2007, by declaring Malakand division, an independent Taliban state.
The way the matters are proceeding it is becoming clear every hour that passes by that the PML-N’s federal government is desperate to initiate the peace process with the Taliban. This is the case because of the pressure being exerted by the Americans. The Americans are insistent that both the governments in Pakistan and Afghanistan come to some sort of security accord or get some surety from the militants before the ISAF and NATO forces withdraw from the region. The main worry for the Americans is that, once the foreign troops leave, the Taliban might seize power in Afghanistan and to an extent in the nuclear armed Pakistan.
The Taliban , by carrying out the recent suicide attack in KP have once again shown to the international community their stubbornness, resilience and capacity to strike at will. This power of the Taliban would surely increase manifolds, once the foreign troops withdraw, leaving the people both of Pakistan and Afghanistan, at the mercy of these ruthless militants. According to a section of political commentators this process of peace talks is an exercise in futility as what the Taliban really crave is a piece of land and not peace with Pakistan.
By Iftikhar Tariq Khanzada